Romania: Ruling party plans counter-protests of critics
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Hundreds of people staged another protest Sunday in the Romanian capital to pressure the government into scrapping a proposed restructuring of the justice system that critics say would make it hard to punish high-level corruption.
The protesters waved flags and shouted “Resign!” and “Justice, not corruption!” outside the government offices.
“The political class wants to destroy Romania and the rule of law, and the only solution is for us to protest,” Marian Raduna, 37, an engineer who was holding a Romanian flag, said.
Senior members of the governing left-wing coalition, including Social Democratic Party Chairman Liviu Dragnea, are under investigation for corruption. Dragnea is unable to serve as prime minister due to a 2016 conviction for vote-rigging. His allies claim the prosecutions are politically motivated.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the ruling Social Democratic Party, Codrin Stefanescu, said the party would organize protests in Bucharest and other cities next weekend against what he called “the parallel state.”
That’s a phrase recently coined by the party and its allies to refer to the justice system and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, an opposition ally.
On Saturday, a few protesters briefly scuffled with police in a square outside the government offices where demonstrations have been taking place regularly since January over Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea’s plans to use the site for a Christmas fair.
Protesters dismantled scaffolding and fences, and even Prime Minister Mihai Tudose criticized the mayor’s plans. Firea, a senior ruling party member, said she would hold the fair elsewhere.